“McCreesh created a tremendous orchestral sound that was sensitive even in the tumultuous tutti passages, and which he made subordinate to the fabulous soloists of the ensemble… twining around them, illuminating them, caressing them, and supporting them – but never strangling them.”
Paul McCreesh is the founder and Artistic Director of the Gabrieli Consort & Players which he established in 1982 and with whom he has toured world-wide and made many award-winning recordings. In 2013 he begins his tenure as the Principal Conductor and Artistic Adviser of the Gulbenkian Orchestra (Lisbon).
McCreesh is well-known for the energy and passion that he brings to his music-making, and he has guest conducted many of the major orchestras and choirs across the globe including the Budapest Festival, Spanish National, Danish National Symphony, Bergen Philharmonic and Hong Kong Philharmonic orchestras. In 13/14 McCreesh makes significant debuts including the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchester in Schubert, Schumann and Mendelssohn, the Berlin Konzerthaus Orchester in Mozart and Britten, and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and Choir with Mendelssohn Elijah. He will also return to the St Paul Chamber Orchestra in the USA and to the Basel Chamber Orchestra on tour in Switzerland and Italy.
With the Gulbenkian Orchestra, McCreesh will conduct a wide range of music from the classical period through to the nineteenth and twentieth century; he will focus in particular on symphonic repertoire, oratorio, and opera in concert, working closely with the world-renowned Gulbenkian Choir. Highlights of his inaugural season include performances of Mozart’s late symphonies, Schubert Symphony No.9, Tchaikovsky’s lesser known Suite No.3 and Mahler’s Lieder eines Fahrenden Gesellen, and in autumn 2013 he will conduct the orchestra on tour in China.
McCreesh has established a strong reputation in the opera house and has conducted productions at the Teatro Real Madrid, Royal Danish Opera, Vlaamse Opera and at the Verbier Festival. Future projects include Hérold’s Le Pré aux Clercs at Opera Comique, Paris and a return to Vlaamse Opera for a new production of Le nozze di Figaro.
Building on his large catalogue of recordings with Deutsche Grammophon, which includes the Gramophone Award-winning Haydn The Creation, in 2011 McCreesh launched his own label, Winged Lion, in collaboration with the Gabrieli Consort & Players, Signum Classics and the Wratislavia Cantans Festival – where McCreesh was Artistic Director between 2006 and 2012. To date they have made six recordings, which reflect the breadth of McCreesh’s musical interests: Berlioz’s gargantuan Grande Messe des Morts (BBC Award 2012), Mendelssohn Elijah and Britten War Requiem, two acclaimed choral albums of Renaissance and contemporary music, and a reworking of his earlier Gabrieli disc, A New Venetian Coronation 1595 (Gramophone Award 2013).
McCreesh is especially passionate about working with young musicians and broadening access to classical music; he works regularly with youth orchestras and choirs and is active in building new educational initiatives whenever possible.
Paul McCreesh is represented by Intermusica.
2013/14 season / 474 words. Not to be altered without permission. Please destroy all previous biographical material.
Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchester & Gabrieli Choir / Leipzig Gewandhaus / Mendelssohn, Schumann, Schubert
“After the interval the stage was set for a powerful, and powerfully eloquent, Walpurgis Night. The Gewandhausorchester’s representation of blazing flames, the clamour of the poem’s “torches and rattling sticks” and the fervent evocation of light made for a remarkable experience, filled with both spine-chilling savagery and quiet contemplation. The magnificent Gabrieli Consort provided the choruses, and every word of its heartfelt laments and furious howling came across clearly – listening to them is an experience you just never want to come to an end…
And the tumultuous spirit of the music was matched by the enthusiastic applause in the packed hall. Schumann’s Nachtlied (Night Song) for choir and orchestra provided a point of calm to counterbalance the turmoil that had gone before, bringing the concert to a dazzling close. But there had already been a moment of magic from the Gewandhausorchester and McCreesh in the first half of the concert, with Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony. The conductor reached deep into the jewellery box in the Allegro moderato, taking the movement at a sublime, unhurried pace to conjure forth delicate, flawless gems. In contrast, he focused more on individual sections in the Andante con moto, shaping them with energetic precision and drawing out beautiful solos from the clarinet, oboe and flute.”
Birgit Hendrich, Leipziger Volkszeitung, September 2013
Gabrieli Consort & Players / Lufthansa Festival / Handel: L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato
“Needless to say, Paul McCreesh, Gabrieli Consort & Players and the four soloists deserve the highest praise in bringing this work to life with such conviction and style… At the helm, Paul McCreesh controlled the orchestra and the chorus beautifully and his tempi were perfectly judged throughout. Unlike in his performances of Handel's dramatic oratorios that I have heard previously, he took a more leisurely approach and didn't push or drive the music and just let it flow naturally – only injecting energy when the music needed some forward momentum.”
Nahoko Gotoh, One Stop Arts, May 2013
Flemish Opera / Agrippina
“Flemish Opera decided not to hire a specialized and expensive baroque orchestra, but made the adventurous choice of using its own symphony orchestra. Luckily, it had an excellent conductor in British maestro Paul McCreesh, who is internationally renowned for his expertise in the Renaissance and Baroque repertoires and who led the orchestra with precision and panache.”
Stefaan Voet, British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies, November 2012
Danish National Symphony Orchestra, with Sol Gabetta (cello) / Schubert; Saint-Saëns; Tchaikovsky; Dvořák
"Paul McCreesh was down on the floor – right in front of the musicians, stirring each other almost in the style of chamber music. He leaned forward, jumped up on his toes and down to his knees. With energetic arms, he let the orchestra roar like a fire or fade to nothing in the melodic sequence. […] Rarely has Schubert sounded so lively.”
Christine Christiansen, KPN , March 2012
Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, with Robert Murray (tenor) / Britten; Elgar; Brahms
“The conductor summoned up a sumptuous sound from the SPCO on the composer's Serenade in E Minor, never more transfixing than on its lush Larghetto.
Carrying over the tone of bucolic splendor that the orchestra explored on Beethoven's "Pastoral" Symphony a few weeks ago, it made the work seem an untroubled gallop through a sun-splashed meadow, the kind of lilting finale that could send the audience off into blissful dreams.”
Rob Hubbard, Pioneer Press, January 2012
Haydn The Seasons / Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, Paris
“Paul McCreesh a enchanté le public à la tête de ses Gabrieli Consort & Players, une formation qui fête ses trente ans en 2012. Le chef insuffle à ses musiciens une énergie qui convient particulièrement bien à ce répertoire.”
Jean-Baptiste de la Taille, ResMusica, January 2012
Haydn The Seasons / The Barbican Centre, London
“McCreesh conducted it quite wonderfully, with an almost innate sense of its ebb and flow, summoning impeccable, incisive playing and some glorious choral singing from his Gabrieli Consort and Players.”
Tim Ashley, The Guardian, January 2012
Mendelssohn Elijah / Gabrieli Consort and Players / Leipzig Gewandhaus
“The tremendous cry of “Help, Lord!” bounced off the walls, and this first choral entry made it abundantly clear that this performance of Elijah was going to be something special; something significant. Two and a half hours later, it was even more than that: this was one of the most vivid performances of Mendelssohn, or indeed of any piece from the choral repertoire, that had been heard in Leipzig in recent times. Paul McCreesh and the Gabrieli Consort and Players, along with their choir of hundreds incorporating the Wrocław Philharmonic Choir, gave a full-on performance of Mendelssohn’s biblical opera-oratorio, delivering the force of the Old Testament with unbridled power. And yet McCreesh balanced out the seething drama by lending his orchestra a classical spring to its step, and allowing it to breathe. And that is exactly what Mendelssohn’s music is: the future, encased in the traditional."
Peter Korfmacher, Leipziger Volkszeitung, September 2011
Mendelssohn Elijah / BBC Proms, Royal Albert Hall, London
“A perfectly rendered performance of Mendelssohn's greatest oratorio.”
Alexandra Coghlan, The New Statesman, September 2011
“… McCreesh had the measure both of the work and of his huge forces. He might have been conducting a madrigal, so extraordinary was his attention to detail; moreover, his interpretation was often revelatory, with the heathen “Baal, we cry to thee” emerging as a confident imprecation rather than a frantic plea. The youthful vigour of McCreesh‘s choirs ensured a warble-free sing, the choristers‘ blend and tonal richness a joy throughout.This Prom was a great event, an exhibition of magnificent musicianship and proof positive that Elijah is back.”
Mark Valencia, ClassicalSource.com, August 2011
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, with Carolyn Sampson (soprano) / Schubert; Mahler; Brahms
“[McCreesh] opened Schubert’s ‘Unfinished’ Symphony with a delicious pianissimo. It felt that, if you breathed, you’d interrupt the performance.
From that he managed to build some incredible crescendi, extracting large swathes of colour from the orchestra who obviously responded highly positively.
Glyn Mon Hughes, Liverpool Daily Post, February 2011
Kammerorchesterbasel, with Sol Gabetta (cello) / Delius; Elgar; Dvořák
“Paul McCreesh and the Kammerorchester Basel were the ideal partners for Sol Gabetta, shaping the orchestral part with just as much sophistication and intensity as she did.
Despite the relatively small size of the orchestra, the strings created a powerful richness of tone, and all the musicians responded to McCreesh's conducting with great flexibility and attention to detail. The maestro, well-known for his collaboration with the Gabrieli Consort and Players, and his mastery of the early music repertoire, proved himself an elegant and refined interpreter of this 'fin de siecle' music. He allowed it to blossom sumptuously, with the radiance of a thousand colours.
After the interval, McCreesh combined his feel for the romantic with the stylistic expertise of the orchestra, well-versed in the performance techniques of the period, for Antonin Dvorak's Symphony No.7 in D minor, Op.70. The performance was expressive in its phrasing and full of drama, with discreet use of vibrato, clarity of form, firm rhythmic command and eloquent development of the motifs and themes. Kammerorchester Basel demonstrated their excellence in this fascinatingly varied score.”
Die Rheinpfalz, April 2010
Gabrieli Consort & Players; Wroclaw Philharmonic Choir & Orchestra / Britten War Requiem, 1962; (Winged Lion)
“The transparency of the textures and the crisp outlines are a delight. You hear more of the subcutaneous detail of Britten's scoring, I think, than on any previous recording. McCreesh opts for an all-British trio of soloists: Susan Gritton thrillingly hieratic, John Mark Ainsley a tenor very much in the Peter Pears mould, Christopher Maltman making every word matter.”
Andrew Clements, Guardian, September 2013
“Thrilling… sensationally good instrumental playing.”
Richard Morrison, Times, September 2013
“The McCreesh War Requiem…has the presence and intensity of a live cathedral performance: it sets new standards for this strangely moving choral work. The Wroclaw Philharmonic Choir projects the Latin liturgical texts with radiant luminosity, matched by the trebles of the Choir of New College, Oxford, while the three soloists – Susan Gritton, John Mark Ainsley and Christopher Maltman – combine poise and conviction. McCreesh brings astonishing clarity to the work’s musical syntax: the performance culminates in a transformative “Libera me”. Here is a recording worthy of the Britten centenary.”
Andrew Clark, Financial Times, five stars, August 2013
“Another triumphant realization of a complex, multi-layered work…”
Andy Gill, Independent, August 2013
Gabrieli Consort & Players / A New Venetian Coronation, 1595; (Winged Lion)
“Even if you own the classic Virgin disc, this new version is a must-buy.”
Hugh Canning, The Sunday Times, June 2012
Gabrieli Consort / A Song of Farewell: Music of Mourning & Consolation; (Winged Lion)
“This is a superlative, unmissable issue.”
Terry Blain, BBC Music Magazine, five stars, Recording of the Month, May 2012
“An excellent disc”
Richard Lawrence, Gramophone, May 2012
“All we can do is applaud.”
James McCarthy, Classic FM Magazine, five stars, Disc of the Month, April 2012
Gabrieli Consort & Players; Wroclaw Philharmonic Choir & Orchestra; Chetham’s School of Music Brass Ensemble / Berlioz Grande Messe des Morts 1837 (with Robert Murray); (Winged Lion)
“a priority purchase”
Andrew Stewart, Classic FM Magazine, five stars, December 2011
“McCreesh’s speeds and intensity are ideally paced: calm yet sweetly shaped and controlled as he propels the score forward.
This is a remarkable release […]
…this is an intelligent and supremely memorable reading… a thing of unexpected delicacy and beauty.”
Mark Valencia, ClassicalSource.com, November 2011
Gramophone, Editor’s Choice, November 2011
The Daily Telegraph, five stars, CD of the Week, October 2011
BBC Music Magazine, five stars, October 2011
BBC Music Magazine Awards 2012: Jury Award
Orchestra & Chorus of Teatro Real Madrid / Handel Tamerlano (with Plácido Domingo, Monica Bacelli, Ingela Bohlin, Sara Mingardo, Jennifer Holloway); (Opus Arte)
“A fine production of a very fine opera.”
The Times, February 2009
Gabrieli Consort / A Spotless Rose (works by Adès, Bax, Desprez, Górecki, Grieg, Howells, MacMillan, Mouton, Palestrina, Tavener, Stravinsky, Swayne); (Deutsche Grammophon)
“This is a collection which is genuinely timeless. Hugely impressive.”
Ivan Moody, International Record Review, June 2009
“indeed a glorious CD.”
Andrew Achenbach, Gramophone, March 2009
“a CD I have no hesitation in labelling essential.”
Terry Blain, BBC Music Magazine, January 2009
Gabrieli Consort & Players / Haydn The Creation (with Sandrine Piau, Mark Padmore, Neal Davies, Miah Persson, Peter Harvey, Ruth Massey); (Deutsche Grammophon)
Classic FM Magazine, Opera & Vocal Disc of the Month, June 2008
BBC Music Magazine, Disc of the Month, May 2008
“a performance that really does reinvent one of the greatest works in the choral canon.”
Andrew Clements, The Guardian, March 2008
Gabrieli Consort / The Road to Paradise (works by Bennett, Britten, Byrd, Harris, Holst, Howells, Parsons, Sheppard, Tallis, Tavener); (Deutsche Grammophon)
The Sunday Times, Classical CD of the Week, June 2007
“the recording is impeccable.”
Richard Fairman, Financial Times,July 2007
Gabrieli Consort & Players / Mozart Great Mass in C Minor (with Camilla Tilling, Sarah Connolly, Timothy Robinson, Neal Davies); (Deutsche Grammophon)
“The performance is absolutely first-class in every respect.”
Peter Branscombe, International Record Review, February 2006
Classic FM Magazine, Disc of the Month, February 2006
Gabrieli Consort & Players / Gluck Paride ed Elena (with Magdalena Kožená, Susan Gritton, Carolyn Sampson, Gillian Webster); (Deutsche Grammophon)
Gramophone, Editor’s Choice, August 2005
BBC Music Magazine, Opera Choice, July 2005
Gabrieli Consort & Players / Handel Saul (with Andreas Scholl, Neal Davies, Susan Gritton, Nancy Argenta, Mark Padmore); (Deutsche Grammophon)
The Daily Telegraph, Classical CD of the Week, May 2004
The Sunday Times, Classical CD of the Week, March 2004
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